Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Yeah sure it'll fit

Aaaaand done!

In my last post I noted that if we didn't sell our house by the time we left that we would need to try again in April. Well, as most of you know by now from Facebook, we DID sell our house!  So yay!

Except yay?... we now have to completely empty our house and have it move in ready for the new owners before we leave on Dec 13?  Uh, sure... NO PROBLEM!

But hey, we're doing it, and it's going fine so no worries. Although I'm pretty sure we underestimated the amount of things we were planning on carrying in the back of our car. For example...

THIS luggage

and THIS 88 note keyboard

oh, and THESE couches

No seriously... we're taking these couches with us to Las Vegas, behind our Prius, so we can hand them off to Brandon.

I mean what could possibly go wrong?

Yep, all this plus a bunch of other stuff I'm sure we haven't even realized yet. But if you think there's no way all these things are going to fit well then you're wrong.  Because we did THIS vacuum shrinky thing with some of our clothes.

So I'm pretty sure we'll be fine.

Yeah runnin' down a dream
That never would come to me
Workin' on a mystery, goin' wherever it leads
Runnin' down a dream

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Changes in Latitudes

Ooh... nothing like a vague story in the local paper to gin up the rumor mill!  Well then, I guess this would be a good time for an update.  It's really quite simple... In January, Charli and I are going to Connecticut for 3 months to house sit for some people we've never met before.  There, that should clear things up.

What's that... not really?

Alright, if you really must pry (we must, we must!)

Here's the scoop. Because my job allows for me to work remotely, I have the freedom to basically work from anywhere there is an internet connection. AND, because all our kids are gone, Charli and I have decided to put our house up for sale and travel for awhile. However, simply traveling around and living in hotels is expensive, so we decided to take advantage of a little thing called house sitting. This is where you can live in a person's house and take care of their pets etc while they travel. No money is exchanged either way and it's a win/win for both parties. So, after signing up on a few house sitting web sites, we met a great couple in CT who will be gone from Jan - Mar and we will be taking care of their dogs and birds while they are away.

But... but... but?

I know, you still have questions. What will you do after that? Where will you live?  What is the easiest way to reduce your 401(k) fiduciary risk?  The truth is, we don't know.  We're just going to do this one gig at a time and see where it leads us.  Right now our plan is to spend Christmas in Vegas with our kids, then turn our car around and head to CT for the winter. After that, thanks to the miracle of social media, you'll know when we do.

In the meantime, we'll be here until Dec 13, so make sure to join us at DB Searles tomorrow night (Sat, Nov 15 from 8-midnight) for a huge party to celebrate an epic 20 years of The Receders.  I'll also be at the Pioneer Place with Grant F. Haake on Nov 21 for his awesome George Harrison tribute, as well as back at the Veranda one last time on Dec 12 with The Acoustics of Nelson/Lee. 

Right now our house still has not sold, but we do have some interested parties. However if it doesn't sell before we leave, we'll likely be back in April to try again.

There... that's all I got.  You now know everything we do. See ya around!

“Not all those who wander are lost.”
― Tolkien

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Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Talk about getting it ass backwards

This is an absolutely true story, and it absolutely happened to me this morning

I had been in the conference for 3 1/2 hours before they finally called lunch break, and I desperately needed to "go," if you know what I mean. And to make matters worse, I had already commuted 2 hours prior to that - so it was time.  I was ready.

I was the first one out of the meeting room and into the bathroom, just ahead of the 10 or so other guys behind me. I knew if I didn't make a move I would have to wait in line and that was NOT an option at this point. So I saddled up to one of two urinals, unzipped my pants and prepared to do my business... except that my business was not available. What the hell? Why can I not find the opening? Sonofabitch I'm gonna pee my pants if I don't get this party started!

And then I suddenly realized 3 things:
1. For the better part of a minute I had been squirming around in front of the urinal and doing what I can only imagine to look like from behind to be playing with myself
2. There was a line of guys behind me waiting for me and watching me
3. I had somehow put my boxers on backwards this morning

At this point the only thing I could think of was to stop wiggling, move in, and pretend I was relieving myself like a "normal" person. The only other option I had was to unbutton my pants and pull them down around my thighs like a 5 year old boy. And let's face it... that would have been embarrassing.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

20 year old rappers on ice

Yesterday I had this Facebook exchange with a friend of mine, after he posted this picture of rapper Ice Cube on a soda fountain ice dispenser (who I thought was Ice-T, hence the HI-larious "coco" comment).

So, as a result of my inexcusable ignorance, I got called out for not being up on my Ice rappers. Can you imagine?

This, of course, was all in jest, as my friend doesn't REALLY think I'm an ignoram-ice. But his jab did cause me to Google the frozen rapper community to see who else was using this extra-cool moniker. 

Of course I had heard of Ice Cube, Ice-T and Vanilla Ice, but what really surprised me was the substantial list of other Ice rappers that I had NOT heard of before.

Here's a summary:

Ice Pick - Best known for rapping over Chet Atkins guitar arrangements.

Dry Ice - Writes snarky lyrics that nobody "gets."

Ice Road Rapper - Alaska's only "Big-Rig Rapper."

Shaved Ice - Claims to be the first bald rapper to hit the scene.

Ice Cream - Eric Clapton's ill-fated attempt at entering the rap genre.

Ice Machine - Claims to be busiest rapper in the industry. Released 86 albums in 2011.

and finally...

Off-Ice - Thought he going to establish himself as the "bad-ass rapper you don't mess with" because he would "off" you cold... but ended up going nowhere because everyone just thought his music was about working in an office.

In my defense though, you really can't blame me for not being able to tell Ice Cube from Ice-T, considering I have listened to exactly none of their music ever. And besides... after 20 years, I assumed these guys had melted by now.

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

What would happen if...

... I wrote a tiny little blog post?

Would anyone notice?

And if they did, would it inspire me to write ANOTHER post the week after that?

And then another and another until eventually I was writing posts every other day like I did for over 4 years at one point?

Interesting question.

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Friday, March 30, 2012

"Well, I have an ingrown nail and terrible gas right now, but otherwise not too bad."

Is it just me, or have we gotten ourselves into a greeting rut as a society?

Take this exchange for example. How many times have you been in this conversation?

You: "Hey Ted, how ya doing?"
Ted: "Good, how are you?"
You: "Great, thanks!"
You: "So, what have you been up to?"
Ted: "Not much, how 'bout you?"
You: "Oh - not too much."
You and Ted: (acknowledging nod)

Brilliant, ain't it?
Now, just for fun, try to get through your day tomorrow and NOT have this conversation with someone. I promise you, it's not as easy as it sounds.

Seriously... does anyone say anything other than some version of "hi, how are you?" or "hey, how's it going?" when we encounter someone anymore? I mean when did a rhetorical question become the only option for saying hello to someone?

I personally try to avoid the ridiculous exchange and usually say something like, "Hi, nice to see you again," or "Hello, you're looking well" - which of course assumes that either are true. Otherwise a simple "Hi" or "Good morning" with a smile works just fine.

My main problem with the over abused "how are you?" greeting is that most people don't really care, or even want to know how the other person actually is. Imagine how uncomfortable it would be if the exchangee decided to reply honestly with a "Oh, not so well. Right now I'm suffering from diarrhea and could very well crap my pants right here."

Ya, exactly.

And think about how much time is wasted on these words that don't actually mean anything. I bet if you added up all the seconds you have spent trading them over a lifetime you would end up with DAYS of wasted time. No... wasted OPPORTUNITY! What if, instead of the empty "How'r you doing?" greeting, people used that time to briefly educate each other with USEFUL information.

"Hi Maria, did you know there's a two-for-one sale on plants at the greenhouse this weekend?"
"No, I didn't! And did you know that eating just 4 sticks of celery a day can help lower your blood pressure?
"No, I hadn't heard that!"
"Yes, it's true. Have a nice day!"
"You too!"

See? Doesn't that make a lot more sense?

Look, asking someone how they are isn't necessarily a bad thing, but does it have to be the ONLY thing? I think not. We're more creative than that. Oh, and for those of you who really DO want to know? I'm doing great... thanks for asking.

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Sunday, November 06, 2011

Vidalia News

Oakland Charter School Replaces Curriculum with Angry Birds
NOVEMBER 6, 2011 | ISSUE 1

An Oakland, CA charter school has taken the unorthodox approach of replacing an entire curriculum with a single five-hour class that allows students to work their way through the popular video game Angry Birds.

Principal MaryAnne Bray, of the Oakland Academy of Arts and Sciences, explained Tuesday that, “Angry Birds encompasses so many teachable properties that we believe students will come away from this program with an enriched understanding of several fields of study.” Bray said that Angry Birds allows students to apply the principles of geometry, physics, engineering, logistics and architecture in a practical and hands on manner. “In fact,” claims Bray, “we have never seen students so willing to engage in class.”

Critics of the school’s new endeavor suggest that allowing your child to play a video game all day in lieu of actual coursework is a gamble. Oakland PS29 assistant Principal Peter Hendrickson questions the practice. “Proof that playing Angry Birds for 5 hours a day will be developmentally beneficial could take years to determine, and that’s just not practical.”

Paul Herning, however, from the Acclaim Child Development Center sees it differently. “I think this is the most innovative and creative teaching mechanism I’ve seen in years. Hats off to OAAS for thinking outside the box!”

Bray agrees there is some risk involved in exchanging 5 standard subjects for a single Angry Birds class, but she is also taking caution not to move ahead too quickly. “We won’t automatically renew the program without testing our students first to see how well they’ve learned from this experiment, or how quickly they can execute their way through the package. If my students can’t successfully demonstrate the physics of flinging birds from a slingshot at the end of the semester then obviously this program isn’t working. But I have faith in my kids that they will be successful in this class. Very successful.”

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Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Rogue Antivirus: The most common computer virus and what to do about it

Many of the people who come to me for virus cleanup make the same comment: “I have no idea how this happened!”

To the untrained professional this might sound like these people are covering up for the fact that they are embarrassed about having a virus, as if the only way they could have contracted one was by visiting questionable web sites.

But I happen to know better.

There are MANY innocent ways to pick up a computer bug and what I’m going to write about here is currently one of the most common… Rogue Antivirus.

How did THAT get on there?

Think about pop-up ads. We see them all the time on the internet and think nothing of them. Whether it’s our local newspaper web site, favorite music download spot or major retail store - we simply close them and move on.

This is the exact same method that the evil virus people use. The only difference is, their pop-up window isn’t an ad. Instead, it’s an ominous warning that looks exactly like a legitimate virus software product telling you that your computer has been infected.

Here’s one example:

Now, here’s where the problem begins. If you were to simply do nothing and close your browser screen you would most likely be fine and virus-free. But since this kind of warning looks so legitimate, many people choose to click either the “Remove All Spyware” or the “Ignore” button, which then triggers the actual virus to download and execute its installation onto your computer. By the way, it doesn’t matter which button you choose, the “Ignore” button will install the virus as well.

At this point you may even be reminded by Windows that you’re about to install an executable program that could contain a virus, but since we’re so programmed to click “Ok” every time we install something in the first place, we choose to ignore this warning and continue. “Besides,” you’re thinking, “ how else am I supposed to get this virus removal program updated so it can clean off the virus it says I have?”

Of course once you execute the fake virus removal program it’s too late. Your computer is infected for real.

Why didn’t my virus protection catch it?

Because, the first it time was presented (as the fake virus protection screen) it was just a harmless “pop up” and not an actual virus. It didn’t become a virus until you clicked on one of the buttons and authorized it to download the virus onto your computer. THAT’S why this one is so tricky!

So how do I know I just ran a fake virus program if it looks real?

The first way you know is because your gut will tell you that something went wrong. We don’t normally get presented with a warning that we have a virus so our first instinct is to follow the directions we’ve so conveniently been presented to remove it. And that’s how the virus people are hoping we will react. If we slow down and check some things out before we click the “Remove all spyware” button like the one on the example above, we will discover that the program we are looking at is not actually the same program we are using for our virus protection (i.e. Mcafee or Norton). So far, no fake virus program I’ve seen has been good enough to mimic the actual screens of the product you have installed.

The next way you’ll know you’ve run a fake virus program is because your computer will start acting up… usually within a few hours to a couple of days. After that you won’t even be able to use your computer because the only thing you’ll be presented with are more fake screens. And left untreated, your computer will no longer even boot up and may eventually get to the point where the only cure is a full blown reinstall of the operating system. Yuk.

What do I do now?

If you encounter some version of the fake antivirus program I’ve describe above you should follow these steps immediately:

1. The FIRST thing you should do is close your internet browser. Then open up your “real” virus protection software and check to make sure it is up to date. If not, run the updater (if you can) to get its current definitions. This, of course, is assuming you actually have something like McAfee, Norton, Microsoft Security Essentials or AVG installed and running on your system.

2. Next, unplug your Ethernet cable and disable your wireless connection. You need to do this because the longer you are connected to the internet, the more damage the virus can do. The initial install of the virus has most likely opened up a direct port to a malicious server that will continue to download nasty things onto your computer. If you disconnect the internet you can minimize that possibility.

3. Run your actual virus protection software. If you haven’t waited too long and you have decent software, it should catch the bug and zap it.

4. If your software isn’t fixing it, or worse yet won’t even run, then the virus has probably dug itself in too deep and you’ll need to take more extreme measures to remove it. Some people have luck finding their own solution on the internet and other people choose to have it fixed professionally. The level of success you’ll have is directly related to the length of time you’ve let the virus run rampant. By far the easiest computers I’ve cleaned are the ones where the customers have simply hit the power button and turned off their computer the first time they suspected the infection. In other cases where they’ve waited too long, I’ve had to deliver the bad news that their only option is a total reformat. Again, yuk.

So hopefully this article will help prevent at least one person from getting this nasty virus in the future. However if it does manage to happen - by all means don't be embarrassed. These people have spent years figuring out the best way to trick us... and millions of people fall for it every day.

Happy, safe computing!

for more tips on keeping your computer safe check out the Virus Stompers safety survey here

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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

10 reasons I don't blog as much as I used to

Oh I know, I hear the talk behind my back...
"he used to blog so much more"
"he used to be so funny"
"it's just so sad"

Please don't judge... I have reasons... exculpations... I HAVE SEMI-PLAUSABLE EXCUSES!

For example:

1. I use one of these netbook computers during my commute and the miniature keyboard makes my hands cramp up.

2. The only free time I have to blog is on the train, and I'm pretty sure the tracks for the line I ride were laid in the late 1800s. Therefore, the bouncing, bumping and swaying I have to endure makes me trainsick.

3. Old football injury to my 5th phalange

4. Way too many shiny objects around me

5. The last time I was abducted by aliens the brain scan damaged my right cerebral cortex

6. I've decided to go "old school" instead. If you like, I can write out additional copies and mail them to you.
(please allow 4-6 months for delivery)

7. I heard that blogging is only for narcissistic, ego-centric, writer wannabees and didn't want to be associated with people like that.

8. I ran out of gas. I, I had a flat tire. I didn't have enough money for cab fare. My tux didn't come back from the cleaners. An old friend came in from out of town. Someone stole my car. There was an earthquake. A terrible flood. Locusts. IT WASN'T MY FAULT, I SWEAR TO GOD.

9. I decided to finally check out some other bogs, and quite frankly I don't see the appeal.

10. I was becoming too famous and it was ruining my quality of life.


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Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Train Lady

Then there's the woman who sat down directly across from me on the train this morning, even though there were 3 other empty sets of seats immediately around us. And when I say "directly" across from me?... I don't mean in the seat kitty-corner across, I mean the seat directly across from me. You know, knees-to-knees.

"Good morning!" she beamed. And then things just got weird from that point on.

Ok, weird-er.

For the next 3 minutes this overly comfortable train lady proceeded to unpack several items from her purse, naming them as she went: "pills... chapstick... cellphone... iPod..." in some kind of bizarre pre-flight preparation of her daily ride-tual.

And then suddenly, as if suffering from a surprise leg cramp, she whipped off her left shoe and thrust her foot up onto the baseboard heater between my right leg and the wall - literally wedging it between them. Instinctively I curled my legs back under my seat so she wasn't touching me.

"Ahh, I like to put my foot on the heater. I have to take these pills. So many pills. I should check my battery. Yep my phone needs to be charged. These ones are for an infection that doesn't seem to want to heal. Boy it's cold outside. I like to sleep on the train. The government wants me to be fresh for my job. I hope I'm not disturbing you."

And so there I sat with this stupid half-grin on my face pretending to be working on my laptop, careful to not say a word in fear that she would REALLY start blathering on. This went on for another 2 or 3 minutes until as if on cue, she put on her Cybill Shepherd sunglasses, leaned back against the headrest and went to sleep, which of course only made it look like she was staring at me for the next 45 minutes.

I don't know why she chose to sit across from me. Maybe I looked friendly. Or maybe she realized the train would be full by the time we got to Fridley and she thought it would be better to sit with somebody she approved of right away rather than take her chances with someone else later. You know, someone who might possibly judge her or make fun of her. Or blog about her.


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